Angelina Jolie v. Brad Pitt: The F.B.I. Lawsuit Revealed

Pitt-Jolie
Photo: Kevork S. Djansezian/Getty Images
Eriq Gardner
August 15, 2022

Back in April, Politico published a short item pertaining to a judge who refused to seal a “Jane Doe” Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. It demanded that the F.B.I. turn over documents related to allegations that the plaintiff’s then-husband “physically and verbally assaulted” her and their children while they were traveling on a private plane “several years ago.” The item speculated—based on the timeline, the details of the incident, and the powerful attorney involved—that this “Jane Doe” was Angelina Jolie, and that the “then-husband” was Brad Pitt. After all, Jolie made similar allegations about Pitt in 2016. Eventually, however, the F.B.I. decided not to press charges.

Having followed their bizarre post-divorce legal battle for some time, I can now confirm that Jolie is indeed the plaintiff in the F.B.I. suit. I can also reveal that the pseudonymous lawsuit is available publically for the first time. On Aug. 9, Jolie amended the complaint, which includes an interesting new detail. Before the F.B.I. announced that Pitt would not be charged with assault on an airplane, the agent investigating the Sept. 2016 incident prepared a statement of probable cause and presented it to the chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. (In the amended complaint, Jolie says she learned this from the F.B.I.’s FOIA response last year.)

Was the F.B.I. preparing for the possibility of charging Pitt with a crime? Here’s what I can say after looking into the F.B.I.’s investigation. Jolie told the special agent that Pitt was drinking and had taken her to the back of the plane, according to the agent’s notes at the time. He allegedly grabbed her shoulders and shook her and yelled things like, “You’re fucking up this family.” Later, during this same flight, another physical altercation allegedly took place, and Jolie said she sustained injuries; she gave the agent a photo of her elbow in an attempt to corroborate this. At another point, Jolie says Pitt poured beer on her. (Pitt’s camp has denied any wrongdoing.)

After preparing a statement of probable cause, the F.B.I. agent met with the assistant U.S. attorney. They subsequently agreed that criminal charges would not be pursued, according to the case file. What was their reasoning? Jolie’s amended complaint cites the need for those unredacted records and corroborating evidence, which remain in the agency’s possession.

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